A few weeks ago a friend alerted me to a discussion about Lagniappe taking place on a local Facebook political group. I knew it was not going to be good. No one ever “alerts” you when people are saying nice things.
It seems a few people had taken issue with a colleague’s recent opinion column. Which is totally fine, of course. It’s a free country (at least I think it still is), and we hope all of our content sparks respectful debate. If it doesn’t, then why are we even doing this? But unfortunately, the discussion, as often happens on social media, devolved into name-calling and personal attacks.
Of course, there were the typical “that paper isn’t good for anything but …” wrapping mullet, starting fires with or lining litter boxes, parakeet cages or various other containers that collect pet excrement. Which is totally fine, too. We are big boys and girls here, and people have been making those jokes since the first newspaper rolled off the printing press. And, I must admit, Lagniappe is THE best paper in town for all the aforementioned uses. In addition to our award-winning commentary, news, investigative reporting, business, arts, music, film, cuisine and sports coverage, it is the most absorbent.
I usually don’t read social media comments, because you really can’t stay sane in this business if you do. And I am not whining (OK, well, maybe a little), but I am not sure I would have gone into this business if I had known “anti-social media” was going to come into existence. But it’s not like we are the only business that has to deal with people saying bad things about you online. I am sure every restaurateur, physician, musician, college professor, cupcake baker and widget maker can relate. It’s just the world we live in today. Sigh.
So, I am not really whining (OK, well, maybe a little) about the commentary on our commentary, but what I was really struck by was how quickly some on the thread were just ready to write off our entire body of work because they disagreed with one OPINION column or columnist.
And it just makes me think it’s part of a bigger, more disturbing trend — that people are also willing to very quickly write off other people or entire groups of people these days if they disagree with them on something. (And, of course, I am not talking about “disagreeing” with crazy people who are members of extremist, supremacist or hate groups. I shouldn’t even have to say that, but since I know someone will say that I am saying that [of course, you should write those people off], I am just making that crystal clear.)
But I am just talking about regular ol’ people who get up in the morning, drink their coffee, walk their dog and go to work every day, but because they have different views on public or economic policy and/or had a different sign for president or senator or whatever in their front yard than you did, and now you hate their guts.
I just don’t get that. I never will. What a lonely, boring world to live in if you choose to only surround yourself with people who think EXACTLY as you do.
What was it we were always told growing up? Always try to find the good in people. Now, it seems like it is turning into if the person isn’t on your “team,” then DO NOT try to find any good in them, and in fact, if you do, then you are bad too.
And I have noticed the more insular a person’s life is the more willing they are to do this. If you aren’t socializing with your neighbors or going into an office or work environment where you are congregating with lots of people with lots of different views, it’s much easier to just wave your hand and say, “Well, I hate them all! They must all be like the people (or caricatures of people) I see represented on TV or social media that I don’t like.” And COVID has certainly made this worse as we have all become more isolated.
But it’s just not like that in the real world. At least in my experience. I am proud to say I am friends with Democrats and Republicans and Independents, and some who probably wished Harry and Meghan could take over here, and some who don’t care about politics at all (the happiest of all of them). And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Again, it’s still a free country (I think), and people certainly have the right to hang out with whomever they want or never pick this paper up again, or if they do, only use it to clean their windows with or as packing paper when they move (other stellar alternate uses!).
I know no media outlet or business, in general, is capable of making everyone happy all of the time. We don’t strive to — we know we are doing our job when we get letters in the same week saying we are both “too liberal” and “too conservative.” And I can certainly find content to point out in a single issue that would lead you to believe we could fit either of those descriptions, and that makes me happy because I know we are serving the ENTIRE community.
And really, that’s all we are trying to do.
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